Solving Cities

On Amtrak, Philadelphia to New York in 37 minutes

On Amtrak, Philadelphia to New York in 37 minutes

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A $151 billion high-speed rail development by Amtrak will make for quick trips between large U.S. cities.

The trains of the future look faster for Amtrak.

A trip from Philadelphia to New York on updated infrastructure will take a sizzling 37 minutes, by 2040, according to a new Amtrak report cited by Philly.com. To put that number into context, the neighboring big cities are separated by nearly 100 miles. A car ride would take about 2 hours depending on traffic conditions. And, currently, a trip on Amtrak's fastest train, the Acela, takes about 1 hour and 11 minutes.

The improved high-speed rail plan is part of a $151 billion redevelopment of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line. To accomodate the high-speed rail between Washington, D.C. and Boston Amtrak will have to build new tracks and other infrastructure. But, eventually, trains will travel at up to 220 miles per hour between the two cities.

From Paul Nussbaum of Philly.com, here's more on Amtrak's proposed line and why high-speed rail in this particular part of the U.S. is so important:

In Philadelphia, Amtrak envisions bullet trains traveling in tunnels beneath the city, with stops at a new airport station and an expanded Market East station. The plan calls for 30th Street Station, now the city's main intercity rail hub, to be used for slower regional train service.

The current corridor between Washington and Boston is old and crowded, with highways, airports, and railroads that are unable to handle growing population and demand, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman said. Without ambitious rail expansion, the region's economy will be stifled, he said.

"I think what's at stake here is the global economic engine of the Northeast," Boardman said in an interview. "The business community in the Northeast has to wake up - they're at risk."

Nussbaum also lays out Amtrak's proposed timeline:

  • 2015: Addition of 40 Acela Express passenger cars increasing capacity by 40 percent.
  • 2020: Double Acela service between Washington, D.C. and New York. Upgrade tracks and signals to to increase train speed to 160 miles per hour. Philly to New York in 62 minutes.
  • 2025: $14.7 billion "Gateway" project improves access to New York with new tunnels, an expanded station and an upgraded bridge.
  • 2030: Complete high-speed rail corridor from Washington to New York. Washington to Philly in 54 minutes.
  • 2040: Northeast Corridor high-speed rail complete.

Of course, the timing will depended on federal (along with local and state) funding. The estimated amount needed from the federal government is about $75 billion.

Now, if only the construction of the project could be as high-speed as the future train.

For more see: "Amtrak's high-speed Northeast Corridor plan at $151 billion" (Philly.com)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Kgrr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure